Jeff Schultz blog 

This AJC sports blogger takes things seriously when he has to, but he really would rather not

Braves out of first — not they deserved to be there

  • 11:30 pm Tuesday, June 17th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Ervin Santana was dinged early with a first-inning homer by Philadelphia's Ryan Howard. (Curtis Compton)

You know that question some people have asked about the Braves: How is this team in first place? Well, there’s no reason to ask that question right now.

In losing to the last-place Philadelphia Phillies for the second straight game 5-2 Tuesday night, the Braves fell one-half game behind the Washington Nationals in the National League East.

The significance of a half-game deficit with 92 games to go? Bupkis.

The significance of scoring three runs in two games over 22 innings against a Phillies team that ranked third from the bottom in the National League in ERA (3.95), as well as committing two [More]

Possible Braves’ moves: Bethancourt up, B.J. to bench?

  • 12:13 pm Monday, June 16th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
If Gerald Laird (left) and Christian Bethancourt are Braves' top catchers, Evan Gattis would move to outfield. (Curtis Compton)

For most of this season, the Braves have had problems with their offense.

For most of this season, the problems at least partly trace back to Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton.

But is it possible that two players who combine for $26.45 million in salary this season both will be on the bench soon? Uggla already has lost his starting second base job to rookie Tommy La Stella and Upton may soon lose his as well.

Mark Bowman of MLB.com has an interesting blog in which he lays out a scenario the Braves are considering for a roster shake-up, and I [More]

Is it time to drop Freeman in batting order?

  • 1:09 am Sunday, June 15th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Freddie Freeman is hitting only .182 over his last 24 games. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

That a Braves’ hitter is in a tailspin is not unusual.

That it’s Freddie Freeman is like some nonsensical alternate universe.

Freeman has been one of the team’s best and certainly most consistent hitters since 2011. He was the team’s best player a year ago, hitting .319 with 23 homers, 109 RBIs and a team-leading OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) of .897. When he hit .397 in the first 18 games this season, all seemed well. Then came weirdness with a .227 average in 48 games and .188 in the last 23 before Saturday night’s game against the Los Angeles Angels.

Maybe Saturday [More]

Braves are golden…or doomed (you decide)

  • 9:13 am Monday, June 9th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
After losing a weekend series to last-place Arizona, the Braves have dropped into a three-way tie for first place.

Good morning.

The Braves have lost three of their last four series (eight of 12 games) to drop into a three-way tie for first place in the National League East with Washington and Miami, neither of which have been very good, either.

This usually is when everybody picks a side in the world of sports’ debate extremes. It’s either: “The Braves are doomed because they stink, and I said so!” Or, “The Braves are golden because they’ve managed to hang in there with slumping players and … well, you just wait!”

I’ve never made it a secret that the Braves’ roster construction and [More]

Will Floyd push Wood into Braves’ bullpen?

  • 3:29 pm Wednesday, April 30th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Braves wanted Gavin Floyd. Problem is there's no room for him.

When the Braves signed Gavin Floyd as a fifth starter in the winter, they thought they needed him. Now that Floyd is ready to come off the disabled list, they don’t need him.

Problem: “Never mind” doesn’t work in the world of sports, particularly in the world of sports contracts.

Mike Minor will make his first start back from the disabled list Friday, which is expected to lead the Braves to send rookie David Hale going to the bullpen or Gwinnett (AAA). Floyd, who is returning from Tommy John surgery, made what was expected to be his final minor-league start Tuesday night [More]

Braves enjoying view, despite some issues

  • 3:37 pm Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014 by Jeff Schultz

The Braves are 21 games into the season. It’s a large enough sample size to form initial impressions but too small to assume anything over the next … well, 141 games.

They defeated Miami Wednesday 3-1. They received another strong start from Aaron Harang (who is this guy?), a pinch hit, two-run double by Evan Gattis (been there) and a three-batter/two-strikeout save by Craig Kimbrel (not dead).

At 14-7, and having won six out of seven series, the good has far outweighed the bad.

But here’s an early progress/regress report.

Three things that haven’t been a problem:

1. Starting pitching. To anybody who says something [More]

LIVE BLOG: 5 questions going into Braves’ season

  • 11:20 am Monday, March 31st, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
The very early scene from Miller Park in Milwaukee.

MILWAUKEE — Let me start with this: I walked into Miller Park at the same time as Julio Teheran and his arm was not in a sling. So at least one projected Braves’ starter made it to opening day healthy.

Is he ready? Is this team ready?

To quote manager Fredi Gonzalez, when asked how he felt about his team, “Good. Good. I feel good. Whether I do or not isn’t going to matter. The season opens on Monday. Here we go.”

It’s opening day in Milwaukee.

Why does it feel like the Braves already are in a hole?

From Gonzalez before the game when [More]

Braves’ poll: Can Uggla, Upton rebound?

  • 7:21 pm Saturday, February 15th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Dan Uggla is confident he'll have a good season. Are you? Vote in poll.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — I had a lengthy and revealing conversation today with Dan Uggla, the Braves’ often-maligned second baseman. I hope you get a chance to read it online at MyAJC.com or in Sunday’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution (the thing made of paper).

A link to the full column can be found here on MyAJC (subscription).

I’m obviously not going to copy and paste all of Uggla’s comments but he was extremely open about his struggles and the accompanying criticism. A couple of excerpts:

Take Our Poll

– On the 2013 season, when he hit a career low .179: “I was [More]

Braves’ signing of Teheran another risk worth taking

  • 11:00 am Friday, February 14th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Julio Teheran had 170 strikeouts in his first full season as a Braves' starter. (AP photo)

(UPDATED: 2 p.m.)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — While it can be debated whether the Braves have done enough in this offseason to win a World Series, there is little doubt they are positioning themselves nicely for the future.

Just 10 days after signing first baseman Freddie Freeman to  a franchise record eight-year, $135 million contract, the Braves locked up their potential ace of the future. Julio Teheran, who in first full season evolved into one of the team’s premier starters, signed a six-year contract worth just over $32 million.

For an organization that has lost a number of legends and/or clubhouse staples [More]

UPDATE: Will Braves-Heyward battle over $300,000?

  • 6:51 pm Friday, January 17th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz

(This blog has been updated.)

The last time the Braves were forced to go to salary arbitration was 2001, when they won their hearing over John Rocker. An arbitrator ruled Rocker would be paid $1.9 million, not the $2.98 million he was seeking. If all of those stupid things the pitcher said and did cost him more than $1 million, well, bless that arbitrator.

Teams do not like going to arbitration. They’re forced to accentuate negatives to win their case. That can be problematic considering they spend most of their time trying to build up their players and tell them how important [More]